ou’ve probably heard that you need to watch how much added sugar you consume.
But what does that mean? How much is too much? And how does it affect your health?
Here’s everything you need to know about added sugar:
Exactly, what is sugar?
Sugar is a carbohydrate, made up of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. It’s found naturally in foods such as fruits, vegetables, and milk. Sugar also occurs naturally in whole grains but when it's added to food (for example, soft drinks or baked goods), it becomes associated with negative health effects not seen with natural sugars from whole grains.
Sugar is also called sucrose. Sucrose can be broken down into glucose (a simple sugar) and fructose (another simple sugar). Fructose does not cause blood glucose levels to rise as quickly as glucose does; however, excessive consumption of fructose may contribute to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Natural vs added sugars
While natural sugars are found in fruits and vegetables, added sugars are those that have been added by the manufacturer. Naturally occurring sugars include lactose (found in milk) and fructose (found in fruit). They're no different from other carbohydrates, and they can be part of a healthy diet if you choose to eat moderate amounts.
But don’t be fooled! Not all sugar is created equal—and it's not just what type of sugar you eat that matters; how much is also important! Added sugars are found sweetening many packaged foods and drinks, including cakes, cookies, ice cream, and soda pop. There may also be hidden sources of added sugar like sauces or salad dressing on your food—so read nutrition labels carefully before purchasing anything processed or prepared for you at restaurants or fast food chains.
How much is too much sugar in a day?
The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day, which is more than three times the amount recommended by the American Heart Association. The AHA recommends limiting added sugar to less than 100 calories per day for women and 150 for men. This is equal to 6 teaspoons of sugar for women and 9 teaspoons for men.
If you’re wondering how much is too much, consider this: one 16-ounce can of soda contains about 13 grams (or about 7 teaspoons) of added sugars; two tablespoons of ketchup contain two grams (1 teaspoon); a typical fast food burger has 4 grams (2 teaspoons); and many cookies contain up to 8 grams (4 teaspoons).
How sugar affects your health
Sugar is one of the main causes of obesity and diabetes. The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day or about 6 teaspoons. This is about 100 calories from added sugars—that’s about half a can of soda! Men should limit their intake to 37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons daily. Sugar can also lead to tooth decay, heart disease, cancer, liver disease, dementia, and inflammation (which leads to arthritis).
How to be smart while consuming sugar
There are many ways to be smart about your sugar consumption. The most important thing you can do is to avoid added sugars. Be sure to follow the food pyramid and eat more vegetables than anything else, as they are low in calories and high in nutrients. You should also avoid processed foods that contain a lot of added sugars like ketchup or pancake syrup so you don't get too much of it with every meal.
Knowing your portion sizes is another important factor when trying to limit how much added sugar you consume in one day. When eating at home, cut back on portion sizes and make sure any snacks eaten throughout the day are healthy ones such as fruit instead of candy bars which contain large amounts of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). If cooking for yourself at home then use less sugar when baking or preparing meals so that it doesn't affect their flavor too much - this will help keep them from becoming unhealthy options over time due solely on how much sweetness was used during preparation!